Cambria businesses are trying to raise public awareness about the joys of visiting and vacationing in the scenic coastal community, and a group of volunteers that represents local lodging interests believes they have taken a $400,000 step toward accomplishing that.
Pending county approval, the Cambria Tourism Board has hired Multi-Marketing Corp. of Fresno to develop and implement a many-pronged effort to promote the Cambria “brand” and lure more visitors for overnight visits to the coastal community, especially during the slower, non-summer “shoulder” seasons.
The Cambria board (a community branch of the county tourism Business Improvement District, or CBID) on Feb. 18 tentatively allocated up to $400,000 for the two-year marketing contract.
The Cambria Tourism Board was formed in 2011 to increase the use of area motels, hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, vacation rentals and homestays — or, as the purpose is often stated, to “put heads in beds.”
Guests at those lodgings pay an additional 2 percent tax to help promote events and other enticements for people to stay in the community’s lodgings.
The tax revenue is split between area boards and the CBID, which promotes tourism countywide in unincorporated areas.
The marketing contract, which the county Board of Supervisors must approve, comes with a caveat that after six months the Cambria board can review Multi-Marketing’s performance, especially on social media. The contract is cancelable by either party with 30 days notice.
If Multi-Marketing doesn’t fulfill the tourism board’s expectations, it could reassign that portion of the contract to another firm, perhaps to FreshBuzzMedia of Pismo Beach, which has been handling CTB’s various Internet ventures, including Facebook and TripAdvisor.
The Cambria board has yet to determine what percentage of the two-year contract would apply to social media, or, as recently added board member Nancy Carr asked, “which firm would be the lead pony” for the online presence during the transition.
However, even with the Multi-Marketing contract approved, FreshBuzz could continue managing the social media activity for at least 90 days, starting at the end of April, to bridge the transition and maintain the community’s online momentum, which included garnering 5,000 Facebook “likes” on Feb. 17.
The Cambria board voted to extend the FreshBuzz contract at least through April for a total cost of $3,280, including for Facebook ads.
FreshBuzz also had submitted a proposal for the two-year gig, in combination with the ad buying and other capabilities of Barnett Cox & Associates of San Luis Obispo.
Four of the seven tourism board members voted to hire Multi-Marketing. Members Linda Finley and Deborah Scarborough opposed the motion. Scarborough said she felt she “really likes” how FreshBuzz’s social-media management has been going, “and I don’t like changing direction and disrupting that momentum.”
Marketing Chairperson Victoria Moreno abstained. She had said she didn’t feel Multi-Marketing had a “strong presence” on social media.
Member Ken Cooper of the Bluebird Inn said he supported the Fresno firm because of their possible connections in metropolitan areas of the state.
Other members of the Cambria Tourism Board are Chairman Bram Winter of Cambria Pines Lodge and Pragna Patel of El Colibri Boutique Hotel & Spa.
Public meetings Cambria Tourism Board meetings are open to the public. The board meets at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at Cambria Pines Lodge, 2905 Burton Drive. Agendas are posted at winecoastcountry.com/members and at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.
Follow Kathe Tanner on Twitter at @CambriaReporter.